List of Best Health and Fitness Books

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OK so this post has been long awaited.  I have received quite a few requests for how I do my health research and which books and resources are my favorite.

First of all, lets talk about the different resources we all have access to.  I will do a part II to this post to just provide you all of my favorite websites.  There are many websites that provide reliable academic content that I gravitate towards.  The one thing you want to keep in mind when looking at your sources of information is if there is a bias at all.  Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the firestorm of media hype, look for solid unbiased facts.

The resource we will be talking about in this post is books. I have provided links to where you can purchase these books online but I find myself often finding fantastic books at my local library (which I highly recommend because the library is AWESOME) and you can also find them at your local bookstore.

FITNESS BOOKS

The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises– This book is great, I used it a lot when I was first getting started with my fitness routines.  The pictures descriptions are very clear.  I loved using this book to piece together my own workouts tailored to my individual goals and needs.

Yoga Mat Companion – This is actually a series of books.  They are a little on the pricey side, but if you are looking for an amazing yoga book or series of books than this is the book for you.  I went through quite a few yoga books before I found this one and quite frankly I was by and large unimpressed.  This book has great illustrations and gives you multiple options and modifications to assist you with getting your postures with correct form.

You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises– This book was a pleasant surprise. Mark Lauren does a great job providing creative bodyweight exercises to add to your arsenal.  I love to use this book as a reference when creating workouts on the road especially.
The Pilates Body: The Ultimate At-Home Guide to Strengthening, Lengthening, and Toning Your Body–Without Machines– The title says it all. A great reference book for pilates moves, no equipment necessary.

HEALTH/NUTRITION

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook– Fantastic book full of yummy, easy, recipes.  They do have quite a few recipes that include soy products which I steer clear of but I just substitute and modify those recipes to my own liking.

Vegan’s Daily Companion: 365 Days of Inspiration for Cooking, Eating, and Living Compassionately– A delightful little book filled to the brim with information about different foods, daily inspirations, positive thoughts, and recipes.  I LOVE this book.

Your Best Investment: Secrets to a Healthy Body and Mind– First of all, this is not a strictly vegan book (which is good because I know that all of you aren’t vegan and thats perfectly alright).  The nutrition promoted follows the guidelines of Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. The first half of the book provides fantastic academic information relating to food and some of the health challenges that we face as a society today.

The Science of Skinny: Start Understanding Your Body’s Chemistry–and Stop Dieting Forever– I don’t agree with 100% of what is in the book but generally her philosophy aligns with my own.  It is a great step by step guide to get you started.  This book is especially great if you are still looking for more direction on how to get started on your journey.

There are quite a few other books I can recommend in multiple categories and I will add to the list as I get the time to.  I hope this list gets you started.  Let me know if this is helpful for you and if you would like more!

xoxo

Healthy Plum Compote Oatmeal Recipe

First off, for those of you who do not follow me on instagram, you should! My username is ‘electricfitness’ and I post daily inspiration to keep you going and motivated to be your best self.  Here is a recent before/after picture that I posted that I would like to share.  The weight loss that you see here is a mere side effect of a healthy and happy lifestyle change that everyone can make.  If I could do it, ANYONE can.

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One question that I get quite a bit when people are contemplating making their own lifestyle change is “do you ever cheat?” or “don’t you crave bad foods once in a while?” The answer is no and yes.  No I don’t cheat and yes I crave a sweet treat once in a while.  Does this mean that I don’t listen to my body and give it that sweet treat when I am craving one? Absolutely not!! But you can have a sweet treat that is an approved part of your nutrition plan without “cheating”.  Part of making a lifestyle change vs. being on a diet means that when you have cut something out of your nutritional arsenal it is no longer part of what you choose to consume and you now have new creative choices for that sweet treat that are equally as tasty (or better if you ask me) and make you feel GREAT.

This recipe is one of those sweet comfort foods that I will make once in a while when I am craving a treat. It is one of my absolute favorites and I hope you like it too!

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Healthy Plum Compote Oatmeal Recipe

What you will need:

  • 1 lb of plums washed, pitted, quartered
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbs raw sugar or honey
  • 1/2 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of water

For the oatmeal:

  • 1/2 cup oats (old fashioned or steel cut) cooked per manufacturers directions.
  • Toppings: 1/4 cup coconut or almond milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, sprinkling of coconut flakes, even a sliced banana if you are feeling frisky, why not?

*The plum compote portion of this recipe makes about 6 servings.  I like to use what I need and freeze the rest, this stuff is seriously delicious.

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Place the water, lemon, sugar or honey, and cinnamon into a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Bring to a boil. Add the plums and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

Make oats according to manufacturers directions. Top with coconut or almond milk, 1/4-1/2 cup of plum compote (depending on how much of a sweet treat you want!) and cinnamon/coconut flakes.  Everyone likes their oatmeal differently so sweeten to your own taste (for me the plums make this plenty sweet). ENJOY!

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Green Raspberry Lemonade Detox Recipe

 

photo-7LEMONS LEMONS LEMONS this entire post is dedicated to this superfood that most people overlook for the more popular and hot superfoods on the market like chia or goji etc.  Not to discount these other great foods but sometimes they cause us to overlook the superfoods that may seem more common and less “fancy”.

Read here for the full article listing out a plethora of amazing health benefits that lemons provide, but here are a few of my favorites to get you started.

Lemons help to alkalize the body and detoxify the liver.  Whether you consume alcohol or not on a regular basis, your liver does need a little TLC every once in a while and increasing your intake of lemons is a great way to get you started.

Lemons help to strengthen your blood vessels which is great especially if you tend to have high blood pressure.

Lemons contain 22 cancer fighting compounds and have strong antibacterial properties.

This smoothie is packed with lemon and other amazing ingredients to provide you with all of the benefits that this superfood has to offer.  It is quite tart so if you have an aversion to bitter flavors, you may want to leave out some of the lemon skins that I just love putting in.  That being said, the lemon skin and pith (the white part) contain some of the highest density of nutrients in the whole fruit so if you can, try to leave them in.

I hope you enjoy this yummy treat — your liver and body will thank you!!

Green Raspberry Lemonade Detox Recipe – What you will need:

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  • 3 large handfulls of kale or spinach
  • 3 whole lemons (I slice the peel off and chop it up to make the blending process easier)
  • 8 oz water (or green tea)
  • 2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Stevia , honey, or pitted dates to taste
  • Ice to desired consistency

In a blender (I use this Blendtec I get a lot of questions about that) place your water or green tea, lemons and greens and blend until smooth.  Then place your fruit, ice, and stevia/honey/or dates into the blender and blend until you have your desired consistency.

Enjoy this treat often, it will provide an amazing boost to your day!

Homemade Coconut Oil Conditioner Recipe

photo-5Similar to my recent shampoo recipe post, I also created a custom conditioner recipe to promote strong healthy long hair.

This recipe is a bit different in that it only contains 3-4 ingredients and I throw it together in a single batch right before I jump into the shower.  The reason for this being that because it is simple and doesn’t contain as many natural preservatives as the shampoo does, and therefore I like to ensure that it wont spoil.

I know that when reading beauty recipes I automatically turn off when it is a recipe to be used right away.  Who wants to pull together a recipe before jumping in the shower right? I promise that this recipe doesn’t contain mayonnaise or eggs or avocado.  In fact, you wont even have to open your fridge to throw this together. I have made making this conditioner a habit and it literally takes maybe 2 minutes of my time (and it is totally worth it!)

Lets talk a little bit about the ingredients.  I have gotten quite a few questions about which products I have purchased for the recipe.  I have linked them to amazon below so that you can find them, they are all under 10 dollars and easy to order.  It is absolutely not necessary for you to purchase these exact brands or to purchase them from Amazon, I just wanted to give you the information!

Coconut Oil – what more could be said about this amazing product.  Everyone is gaga over it lately.  Using coconut oil on your hair will fix split ends, and moisturize your hair to the deepest level.  A little does go a long way and through my research I have seen it used in a myriad of ways on hair, as a leave-in treatment, placed straight into your hair as an anti-frizz, you name it.  In this recipe I have diluted the coconut oil reducing the risk of leaving the shower with a greasy mess.  Coconut oil comes in a solid form but easily liquifies at 76 degrees F.

Maracuja, Grapeseed, or Sweet Almond Oil– All three of these lighter oils provide various different vitamins and benefits but the addition they will act as a sealant and lock in the moisture as well as add shine.

Lavender Oil
– Part of having healthy hair is having a healthy handle on stress.  The addition of a lavender oil will help to calm and relax you as you leave your shower.

THE RECIPE

Combine all ingredients in a small airtight container.  As this recipe will be used right away, you do not need to be quite as strict about sterile manufacturing processes as you do with the shampoo recipe, but still make sure you are using a clean container and filtered water. Home made beauty products are amazing as long as you are mindful about sterilization.

After you are finished shampooing your hair, work this conditioner into your hair focusing on the ends.  I try to steer clear of my scalp completely.

**Please please please play around with the proportions.  Everyone’s hair is different and the coconut oil may feel like it is weighing down your hair to some and may be great for others. If the coconut oil is too much, try replacing it with grapeseed oil which is much lighter. Also, you can try using this conditioner prior to shampooing your hair which will be a great option if you feel as though the conditioner is making your hair appear oily at all.

 

Homemade Healthy Shampoo Recipe

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For the past year I have scoured various beauty salons, shops, supermarkets, and even online in search of a shampoo that provided an ingredient list that was both non-toxic and also promoted healthy strong hair.  Finally, after much research, I decided to come up with my own shampoo/conditioner recipe perfectly designed for me.  I am in LOVE with the result and I hope that you will love this recipe as well.

Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you.  It is a common misconception that our personal hygiene and beauty products require a long list of ingredients in order to be effective.  In fact, the typical long list of ingredients in your shampoo tends to contain toxic and harsh chemicals that will strip the natural oils of your hair.  The simplicity of this recipe will allow the natural oils in your hair to become balanced and your hair will flourish.

Because this is a deviation from the chemical soup we have been slathering in our hair for years, there will be an adjustment period when you make the switch.  Your hair will require time to balance the natural oils that you are no longer stripping with each wash.  For me, this adjustment period was 3-4 days, but I have heard that for some it can take up to 2-3 weeks.  It depends on the individual.

On to the fun stuff, lets talk a little bit about some of the ingredients included in this recipe.

Sweet almond oil – Used in ancient Egypt to promote hair growth (yes please) this lovely oil is affordable and can be used in a myriad of beauty products.  I use it in this recipe to promote hair growth and to make my hair shiny and beautiful!

Avocado Oil – I add a bit of avocado oil to this recipe to moisturize and nourish the hair.  Avocado oil boosts the moisture content of the hair as well as providing vitamins A, E, and D along with minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, etc.

Peppermint Essential Oil- Helps to normalize the PH balance of your scalp keeping your natural oils in check and stimulates your scalp with tingly goodness promoting hair growth.

Tea Tree Essential Oil- has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities and assists in banishing dandruff (thank you!)

Sandalwood Essential OIl- Has a wonderful smell and moisturizes your hair and scalp.

THE RECIPE – Combine all of the following ingredients in a sterilized airtight container.

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1/2 cup unscented castile soap
  • 1 and 1/3 Tbs sweet almond oil
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint essential oil
  • 1/4 tsp tea tree essential oil
  • 1/8 tsp sandalwood essential oil

If you tend to have an oily hair type, omit the avocado oil and sandalwood and in place of the sandalwood, use lemongrass essential oil.

Lather and tinse as normal.  ENJOY and let me know how it goes!

Pesto Zucchini Noodles

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As summer is quickly approaching, I am finding myself less inclined to crave warm foods.  This has presented a unique challenge in attempting to get creative in my cooking beyond the typical salad.  There are many raw foodists out there who are able to come up with creative meals year round, so why couldn’t I?

The best part about this meal is that it wasn’t planned.  I didn’t go to the grocery store with a list, I simply got creative with what was in the fridge.  I could have grilled up the zucchini as I normally do but I wanted to enjoy this dish RAW.  I hope you enjoy this wonderfully clean vegan and raw recipe.  I know that my entire family did (even those who are historically not excited about eating my “super healthy” food).

Raw zucchini provides unadulterated benefits that run the gamut most beautiful green foods provide such as preventing cancer and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol but zucchini is uniquely high in manganese.  Manganese is great for your metabolism, strong bones, and protecting against oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress is a large term that often gets thrown around along with free radicals, but what does that really mean? Free radicals are all around us, pollution, chemicals, etc. its enough to drive one mad.  The good news is that mother nature has provided us a way to fight back, so don’t stress! Whole foods, fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that reduce and counteract the free radicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis.  It is important to make a concerted effort to ensure that our diets are rich in these anti-oxidant dense foods.  Sometimes this takes a bit of creativity and planning, but can be accomplished and with great benefits to you and your family’s health!

Make this lovely delicious recipe that not only your taste buds but also your body will enjoy and thank you for!

What you will need:

– 2 large zucchinis

-2 cups fresh basil

-1/4 cup almonds (raw or dry roasted)

-Juice of 1 lemon

– Salt and pepper to taste

1. Peel the zucchinis into ribbons using either a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. I used a vegetable peeler and it worked great.  Set aside.

2. Place the lemon juice, basil, almonds, and salt & pepper into a blender or food processor and pulse until it is a pesto consistency.

3. Mix the pesto on the zucchini noodles and enjoy on their own or place on top of a bed of romaine for a heartier salad!

ENJOY!!

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